natural selection

noun
the process by which forms of life having traits that better enable them to adapt to specific environmental pressures, as predators, changes in climate, or competition for food or mates, will tend to survive and reproduce in greater numbers than others of their kind, thus ensuring the perpetuation of those favorable traits in succeeding generations.


Origin:
1855–60

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World English Dictionary
natural selection
 
n
a process resulting in the survival of those individuals from a population of animals or plants that are best adapted to the prevailing environmental conditions. The survivors tend to produce more offspring than those less well adapted, so that the characteristics of the population change over time, thus accounting for the process of evolution

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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

natural selection n.
The process in nature by which, according to Darwin's theory of evolution, only the organisms best adapted to their environment tend to survive and transmit their genetic characters in increasing numbers to succeeding generations while those less adapted tend to be eliminated.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
natural selection  
The process by which organisms that are better suited to their environment than others produce more offspring. As a result of natural selection, the proportion of organisms in a species with characteristics that are adaptive to a given environment increases with each generation. Therefore, natural selection modifies the originally random variation of genetic traits in a species so that alleles that are beneficial for survival predominate, while alleles that are not beneficial decrease. Originally proposed by Charles Darwin, natural selection forms the basis of the process of evolution. See Notes at adaptation, evolution. Compare artificial selection.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

natural selection definition


A process fundamental to evolution as described by Charles Darwin. By natural selection, any characteristic of an individual that allows it to survive to produce more offspring will eventually appear in every individual of the species, simply because those members will have more offspring.

Note: The expression survival of the fittest was used to describe this process in the nineteenth century but is not favored by modern scientists.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Natural selection directs the course of evolutionary change.
Viruses have genes, can reproduce and are subject to the evolutionary pressures
  imposed by natural selection.
Evolution by artificial selection is likely to prove almost as wasteful as the
  kind by natural selection.
His theory of natural selection was based in part on what he observed in
  domesticated species.
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